Simple observations can improve cattle
by Jeffery D. Via
Producers can gather lots of useful information by simply observing their cattle.
Dr. Jim Neel, a beef cattle specialist with The University of Tennessee Extension, called the technique “managing by wandering around,” and he recommended that producers make it a habit to observe their cattle.
“One of the first things producers can observe is the body condition of their cows,” Neel said. “Cows in a ‘thin’ body condition will have more difficulty calving, will experience reduced milk production and will have reduced reproduction success.”
Neel recommended that livestock producers maintain cows in “good” condition, meaning a body condition score of at least 5, to ensure effective performance. He also said the quality of the hay being fed can be easily evaluated through observations made while wandering the farm.
Neel recommended that producers observe whether their cows are consuming their hay and whether their manure piles “stack up.”
“The stacking is not due to freezing weather,” he said. “Poor quality hay will be low in both energy and digestibility and, as a consequence, will ‘stack up’ when defecated. With stacked manure piles, cows will need feed supplements high in both protein and energy.” -- UT Extension